Earning a driver’s license is a rite of passage for many people, but it can be a daunting task.
Even the most prepared drivers can make mistakes during the test due to nervousness or unfamiliarity with the local roads and laws. However, knowing what not to do can be helpful in making sure you pass with flying colors.
So, if you or someone you know is about to take the test, here are a few mistakes to avoid making. Even if you’re already a proud owner of a driver’s license, these tips are reminders of how to be a good driver and stay safe on the road.
1. Forgetting Important Paperwork or Bringing an Unsafe Vehicle
It’s simple: If you forget your paperwork, you won’t be able to take the test. There’s no way around it.
So, if you have a driving test coming up, remember to bring these documents and check your state’s DMV site to see if you will need any other information:
- Proof of identity
- Proof of residence
- Proof of legal status
- Behind-the-wheel course or other applicable course completion certificates (mostly if you’re below 18)
- Driving license application
- Vehicle’s registration
- Vehicle’s insurance
Additionally, you must bring a vehicle that is safe to drive. This includes:
- 2 license plates with current registration
- Front and back turn signals and brake lights
- A working horn
- Tires and brakes that are in good condition
- A clear windshield
- Left and right rear view mirrors
- Working safety belts
- Working emergency/parking brake
2. Improper Vehicle Control
A popular mistake is controlling the steering wheel with only one hand.
Instead, you should:
- Keep both hands on the wheel (as much as possible)
- Make hand-over-hand turns
- Control the release of the wheel from turns
On that note, improper braking could also cost you a license. Hard braking may be acceptable in emergencies, but not if an examiner is thrown forward when the driver slows down or stops.
3. Forgetting Turn Signals
Forgetting to use signals when the examiner tells you to make a turn is a standard occurrence when drivers are nervous.
Make using turn signals a habit before taking the test. It keeps you and others safe on the road, not to mention, helps you avoid some nasty glares or honking from other drivers.
4. Not Checking Mirrors
New drivers often focus solely on the road ahead while driving.
However, it’s essential to check mirrors regularly, not just when turning or switching lanes.
In fact, advanced driving instructors recommend that drivers glance at your rearview and side mirrors every five to eight seconds. It can help one stay aware of what’s around, even if it’s to know that another vehicle isn’t approaching.
5. Improper Lane Changing
Hastily changing lanes without due procedure during a driver’s test is a red flag.
There are specific steps to follow before changing lanes, such as:
- Activating the turn signal
- Checking the rearview and side mirrors for incoming traffic
- Looking over your shoulder to check mirror blind spots
- Changing lanes without dropping speed or cutting in front of anyone
- Turning off the signal
Be sure not to change lanes at intersections, through solid lines, or when turning.
Tailgating could make a driver fail their test.
Tailgating involves closely following the car in front of you, which can be a hazard if they suddenly brake or swerve.
That’s why it’s best to stay a safe distance (a few car lengths) behind another vehicle. This can give drivers enough time to react in emergencies.
7. Driving Too Fast
A common misconception is thinking that the driving exam is a timed test.
It leads to drivers doing regular tasks in a hurry.
You may miss changes in speed limits and end up speeding or rolling through a stop sign.
Moreover, examiners may even ask questions about the speed limit (especially pertaining to school, work, or special zones).
8. Driving Too Slow
Drivers could also fail if they drive too slowly on their test.
More than that, driving considerably below the speed limit is unsafe and illegal since it can hinder the normal flow of traffic. It may even lead to collisions on high-speed freeways.
So, it’s best to maintain an appropriate speed based on the speed limit.
However, driving significantly below the speed limit is acceptable during specific conditions, like heavy traffic, accidents, rain, or fog.
9. Making Incomplete Stops
What’s hard about halting at a “stop” sign?
To do it correctly, a driver must:
- Make a complete stop
- Stop before the line, but as close to it as possible
- Give way to crossing pedestrians or vehicles that arrived before you
- Proceed forward
What about “All-way Stop” signs at intersections?
Similar to the above, a driver must come to a complete stop. If other cars have been waiting before you arrived, let them go first. If you arrive at the same time as another vehicle, the one to your right goes first.
Once it’s your turn, you can go. Just remember to signal if you’re turning at the intersection.
10. Not Checking for Pedestrians
Many new drivers only pay attention to the road and other vehicles.
While important, only paying attention to the road and other cars could very well cause you to fail your driver’s test.
Pedestrians have the right of way. So, you need to scan the edges of the road as well and give way when they want to cross.
11. Distracted Driving
Generally, it’s normal to use your vehicle navigation, listen to the radio, or answer calls (hands-free) when driving.
However, an examiner could fail a candidate for being distracted if they use any of them during their driver’s test.
So, remember to always keep your hands free and your mind focused on the road.